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April 14, 2005 Extra Credit
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April 14, 2005

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Free Tutoring Under NCLB Benefits Maryland Children

Under No Child Left Behind, if a school does not meet its state-defined academic achievement targets for three consecutive years, low-income students are eligible to receive free tutoring. The following are excerpts from an article in yesterday’s The Baltimore Sun highlighting how children in Maryland are benefiting because of the free tutoring:

"It’s a cool spring evening in Edmondson Village, and children are playing outside Dontae Melton’s house in the still-strong daylight. The 11-year-old boy, however, is in his family’s darkened living room, working by lamplight on a writing assignment under the supervision of a private tutor paid for by Baltimore’s public schools. ‘Structured activities are what he needs, if I’m going to win this battle against the streets,’ says his mother, Eleshiea Goode, who is raising two children on her own and worries that Dontae could lose interest in school and succumb to bad influences in their West Baltimore neighborhood. Dontae is one of a growing number of children whose school experiences have been changed by a less-publicized provision of the No Child Left Behind Act that has made free private tutoring a routine part of life for a growing number of low-income families."

"After a cool initial reception, more and more parents have begun to view free tutoring as a way for their children to get ahead, rather than as a service that labels their children as low achievers, said Jane Fleming, who oversees the tutoring services for the Maryland State Department of Education. ‘I think the program is going to grow like this because parents are going to see the benefits,’ Fleming said."

"Barbara R. Davidson, president of StandardsWork, a Washington education nonprofit, said word-of-mouth about tutoring and better outreach by schools are reasons that more parents are signing up for the service. ‘For many parents in Baltimore, they’re just at their wits’ end,’ said Davidson, whose group used billboards around Baltimore last year to advertise the services failing schools must provide. ‘These companies, many of them have had a very successful track record, and in many cases they've been out of the reach of parents who have limited means.’"

"[F]or Goode, the one-on-one tutoring her son receives has been a ‘saving grace.’ Goode knew four years ago that tutoring might help her son overcome his difficulties in school, which were made worse by an attention-deficit disorder. But she abandoned the idea after learning of the $75 cost of an initial assessment and the $40-an-hour cost of tutoring. The city schools now pay a tutor to visit twice a week. Since he began the tutoring, the sixth-grader's math and reading skills have improved and he is better organized.

"‘He needed a different environment. He needed more one-on-one,’ said Goode, 36, who works part time and is studying to be a school counselor. The mother doesn’t want her son to just earn better grades. She hopes tutoring will help him succeed in school and keep him from being lured by the neighborhood drug dealers.

"It took some time for Dontae to warm up to Daniel Russell, who works for Porter Education, a Landover-based tutoring company. But the boy now looks forward to the sessions. Dontae said his math skills have improved because his tutor shows him several ways of solving a problem, while at school ‘they teach it halfway.’ And Russell is more patient. Said Dontae: ‘If I mess up, he won't get frustrated or nothing. He just keeps on helping me.’"

The complete text of this article is available from The Baltimore Sun online archives for a fee.

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NCLB Extra Credit is a regular look at the No Child Left Behind Act, President Bush's landmark education reform initiative passed with bipartisan support in Congress.

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Last Modified: 11/27/2006